7 Lesser-Known Facts About Electric Vehicles You Need to Know

7 Lesser-Known Facts About Electric Vehicles You Need to Know

Electric vehicles (EVs) have taken the automotive world by storm, offering eco-conscious consumers an enticing alternative to traditional gasoline-powered cars. With fuel prices soaring, more and more people are considering the switch to EVs. However, beneath the glossy marketing campaigns and showroom allure, there are critical aspects of EV ownership that often go unmentioned by dealerships. As someone deeply immersed in the world of EV powertrain engineering for over three years, I'm here to share seven lesser-known facts about EVs that every prospective buyer should be aware of before taking the electrifying plunge.

Nearly Half of Your EV's Cost Goes Toward the Battery

When you buy an EV with a total price of around $30,000, approximately 70 kWh of battery capacity is included, costing over $12,000. Keep in mind that EV batteries degrade over time and usage, typically maintaining around 80% of their capacity after 4,000 to 6,000 charge cycles. (Note that batteries with a state of health - SOH - below 70% are generally considered for replacement.) Moreover, the battery you're purchasing is essentially equivalent to a fuel tank in a conventional gasoline car.

This substantial cost isn't necessarily all profit for the automaker, as they often sell EVs at a loss. Even battery manufacturers don't reap significant profits from this. It's a tangible representation of the costs incurred by the formidable technological challenges involved in advancing EV technology. In a way, you're investing in pushing the boundaries of human technological progress.

Bigger Battery Capacity Doesn't Always Mean Better Value

Increasing a battery's capacity by just one kWh can add to the cost, increase the vehicle's weight by more than 10 kilograms, and may only provide an additional 10 kilometers of range or less. Furthermore, the devaluation of the battery due to capacity loss becomes more significant with larger batteries. Is it worth it? Sometimes it's hard to understand why some people opt for EVs with 80 or 90 kWh of capacity.

This is a complex issue that's hard to avoid. Consider an EV with a claimed 500 kilometers of range, but in practice, it typically covers around 400 kilometers. In extreme conditions like extreme cold or high-speed driving, that range can drop to around 300 kilometers at best. First, it's challenging to drive under ideal conditions to achieve the claimed range. Second, factors like temperature, charge/discharge rates, and state of charge (SOC) significantly affect the battery's capacity and, consequently, the range. While all manufacturers claim their batteries can operate between -30°C to 60°C, the ideal temperature range for optimal performance is generally between 24°C and 30°C. In many situations, such as winter, temperatures can be much lower, leading to a sharp decrease in range. In high-temperature environments, poor battery temperature control (such as the absence of air conditioning cooling) can limit discharge rates, also reducing range.

Battery Charging Time Isn't Always as Advertised

Similarly, battery charging times are affected by factors like temperature and SOC. Manufacturers often claim that their EVs can charge from 30% to 80% in 40 minutes, but they don't always mention that the last 20% might require an additional hour or more to charge fully.

Continuous Acceleration and High-Speed Driving Impact Range

Manufacturers often tout acceleration times for 0 to 100 kilometers per hour, but if you accelerate continuously for more than 10 seconds, you might feel a sudden reduction in power. This is due to the torque characteristics of the electric motor and the continuous power delivery capabilities of the battery, which can't sustain high loads for extended periods. Consequently, you might notice a gradual loss of power if you push your EV too hard. Additionally, high-speed driving consumes more energy and reduces range significantly.

Smart Features and Autonomous Driving Technologies Are Expensive

Many EVs come with "smart" and advanced driver-assistance system (ADAS) features as selling points. While some of these features can make driving more convenient, they come at a cost. "Smart" features like advanced infotainment systems may not live up to their full potential, and ADAS systems, typically at Level 2 automation, may not be as useful as expected. Furthermore, the cameras, millimeter-wave radar, and other components required for these features can add to the vehicle's cost. While some of these features, such as active emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, and pedestrian recognition, are beneficial, they may not be frequently utilized unless driving on highways.

In conclusion, while EVs offer numerous advantages, they also come with intricacies that consumers should be aware of before making a purchase. Understanding these lesser-known facts can help you make an informed decision and fully enjoy the benefits of electric mobility, such as smooth acceleration, quiet operation, low center of gravity, balanced weight distribution, and the satisfaction of not having to refuel with gasoline, which you can only appreciate once you've experienced it firsthand.

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